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Senator Hassan Visits U.S.-Mexico Border, Mexico City to Assess Drug Interdiction Efforts

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, Senator Maggie Hassan recently returned from an official visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, where she evaluated firsthand the efforts underway to combat the trafficking of illicit drugs, such as fentanyl, that make their way to New Hampshire and communities across the country.

Senator Hassan spoke on a conference call yesterday with reporters, where she discussed what she learned from her meetings with Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents on the ground in El Paso and McAllen, Texas, as well as with Mexican officials in Mexico City. The Senator highlighted the importance of ensuring that Border Patrol has the support and resources it needs from Congress to help detect, intercept, and halt the trafficking of fentanyl and other illicit substances.

See below for highlights of coverage:

From AP:

…Hassan visited the border last week to evaluate efforts to stop narcotics-trafficking. She was briefed by Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. Hassan directed her attention to how Congress can better support them in detecting, intercepting and halting the trafficking of drugs, showing special interest in fentanyl.

"With 76 percent of drug overdose deaths in New Hampshire in 2017 involving fentanyl, we must do more to disrupt the trafficking of this lethal drug, including smuggling by Mexican cartels," Hassan said.

…In a call with reporters Monday, Hassan said that some resources needed are more border control personnel, refined technology and better roads and upgraded facilities. She suggested increasing funding for personnel recruitment and improving technology to combat the sophisticated and evolving Mexican drug cartels.

…Hassan also met with Mexican officials to build upon existing partnerships. They discussed helping the Mexican government expand its federal police force by training new officers to combat the drug cartels.

…"I'm impressed by the border control's commitment to keeping our country safe," Hassan said. "Their ongoing work to make sure that they are being as creative as they can be to fight these drug cartels is remarkable."

 

From WMUR:

Sen. Maggie Hassan said on Monday that a five-day trip to the U.S.-Mexico border and Mexico City last week convinced her that more U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are needed to beef up the fight against “insidious” drug cartels dealing heavily in fentanyl.

Hassan, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said that she met with agents in El Paso and McAllen, Texas to assess their efforts to stop the flow of fentanyl across the border and discuss with them how Congress can better support them in detecting, intercepting and halting the drugs.

“We all know painfully well that this crisis is taking a massive toll on our communities,” Hassan said. She said the trafficking of opioids, especially fentanyl, is “exacerbating the crisis.”

…“It’s clear that we need more border patrol personnel, improved technology, and better infrastructure, such as roads, fencing, and upgraded facilities -- and that we must strengthen partnerships with Mexico to stop cross-border narcotics trafficking,” Hassan said. “However, we also know that we can’t just enforce our way out of this crisis, and we must also continue strengthening prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts.”

…Hassan has cosponsored two bipartisan bills related to drug interdiction, according to her office.

The International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology (INTERDICT) Act addresses needs of the Customs and Border Patrol agency, while the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act focuses on halting the flow of synthetic drugs from being shipped through the postal service.

From NHPR:

Senator Maggie Hassan recently visited the U.S.-Mexico border to meet officials and law enforcement working on the front lines of the illicit drug trade.

During her five-day trip, Hassan met with Mexican leaders, too. One of her main focuses was fentanyl, the drug which contributed to 76 percent of overdose deaths in New Hampshire last year.

“The Mexican officials agree that their cartels are trafficking a great deal of fentanyl,” Hassan said.

…Hassan added that a greater law enforcement force is needed to combat the drug trade on both sides of the border […]

From Union Leader:

More border patrol agents and better technology are needed to stop deadly drugs from coming across the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, who spent last week touring the border region.

While some improvements to the physical barriers along the border may be needed, Hassan said, issues surrounding staffing and technology dominated her discussions with border protection agents and their supervisors on both sides of the border.

…“It’s really clear from talking with border patrol experts that we need more tools at our disposal at the border to combat the flow of drugs,” Hassan told reporters in a conference call Monday.

“Consistently, across the board, what I heard from Customs and Border Protection folks is they need more personnel, first and foremost,” said Hassan. “And they need more infrastructure, including better roads and all-weather roads that can get them to the border faster in remote places.”

More agents are needed to control traffic in both directions, according to Hassan.

“Our ports of entry need to be expanded and staffed up, especially when it comes to south-bound traffic, because we need to interdict cash and weapons coming out of our country back to Mexico,” she said.

…In McAllen, she was briefed on the technology used to detect fentanyl at one of the busiest border crossings in the country. Hassan co-sponsored the International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology (INTERDICT) Act, which the President has signed into law, to expand and enhance access to the drug detection equipment.

“This technology is still in short supply, and while the INTERDICT Act will help, more still needs to be done,” said Hassan.

From Concord Monitor:

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan said more tools are needed at the U.S.-Mexican border to combat the flow of illegal drugs like fentanyl that fuel New Hampshire’s deadly drug epidemic.

…“While law enforcement officers are the first people to say that we can’t arrest our way out of this crisis, as we work to build up our treatment infrastructure, we also have to continue to attack the supply side of this epidemic by boosting drug interdiction efforts,” Hassan said.

…Hassan said she also met with leaders in Mexico City about strengthening the U.S.-Mexican partnership in battle the opioid epidemic.

“We need more tools at our disposal at the border to combat the flow of drugs and so we need more border patrol personnel,” Hassan said.

Hassan, who sits on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also stressed infrastructure, such as “all-weather roads that can get them (border patrol agents) to the border faster in remote places.”

…“In different situations, a physical barrier may be appropriate,” Hassan said. “There may be something else they need first before that. And the type of physical barrier depends a lot of the geography.”

While Hassan is a strong supporter of improving border security, she’s repeatedly said that the president’s push to build a wall along the entire southern border is not necessary or cost-effective.[…]

From Eagle Tribune:

…Following a visit to both sides of the border last week, Hassan discussed the U.S. and Mexican governments' efforts to stop drug cartels and the ferrying of drugs into the Granite State.

…While border patrol officials report that Mexican cartels are also dealing in heroin, cocaine and meth, fentanyl is of particular concern to New Hampshire officials.

More than 85 percent of opioid deaths and 76 percent of overall drug deaths in New Hampshire last year involved fentanyl, according to the state Medical Examiner's Office.

…Hassan visited Mexico City during her trip, as well as El Paso and McAllen, Texas. She discussed recruiting needs with American officials and efforts to beef up federal policing in Mexico in the capital city.

"We need to continue to work with our Mexican counterparts," Hassan said.

 

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